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Warning: Labels on Meds Too Boring to Attract Attention

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Warning: Labels on Meds Too Boring to Attract Attention

The elderly are the most likely to miss warning labels on medications, a new study found.

According to a study by a Kansas State University researcher working with Michigan State University scientists, many patients ignore warning labels on prescription drugs that are critical to safe and effective use of the drug. The results showed that the labels failed to attract the attention of many consumers; thus, these individuals were not aware of important safety information.

"These findings have implications for the design of prescription drug warning labels to improve their effectiveness, particularly as the U.S. government recently started to investigate approaches to standardize the format and content of these labels to decrease medication error rates," said Nora Bello, an assistant professor of statistics at Kansas State University. "Results from this study can provide insight to assist debates about labeling designs that are most likely to impact a wide age range of consumers."

The study found 90 percent of individuals between 20 and 29 saw the warning labels, while 50 percent of people older than 50 did not see a label on one of the five prescription vials. In fact, 22 percent of individuals in this age range did not see the warning labels on any of the five vials.

In the United States there are nearly 15 million medication errors every year, most of which occur in the home where the responsibility for proper use falls more significantly on the individual.